by Jeff VanderMeer
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014. 195 pages General Fiction
After almost 12 expeditions to Area X, the place is still shrouded in mystery. Since so few explorers ever return to share their findings, little is known about the strange animal and plant life there and what is mutating or changing them. That dreary fact doesn’t stop the next expedition, comprised of all female members, from venturing out in attempt to make sense of the place that seems to be slowly and alarmingly expanding to surrounding areas and affecting all it touches. The group, comprised of a psychologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, a biologist, and a linguist, has been instructed not to share personal information including names, not to bring any modern technology on the trek, and to keep their findings and observations privately recorded in their journals. They soon learn that Area X is not what it appears, and that their fellow expedition members are not either.
There are so many little revelations throughout this book, that writing too much about it will surely spoil it. It’s fast paced, suspenseful, and lusciously descriptive of a world within our own, being altered by unseen forces. It is the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy and I can't wait to read the others! This book has been adapted into a film starring Natalie Portman, but there’s a lot of nuance and world building missing from the film- so skip the movie, and read the book instead!